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Debit Card Disputes

Fraud and Purchase Error Resolution

You open your monthly bank statement and notice you were charged twice for last week's grocery order. Or there's a charge from a retailer you've never visited. What should you do? Is that money gone forever?

If you notice an inaccurate charge on your debit card, you may decide to dispute the transaction. Disputes occur when you disagree with the accuracy of a charge that appears on your debit card statement. They typically fall into one of three categories:

  1. Fraudulent charges. These could occur if your card is stolen or your personal information has been compromised. Fraudulent charges are ones you have not authorized. 
  2. Billing errors. Duplicate charges may result when a merchant mistakenly runs your card twice, or if you purchase a discounted item but are charged full price.
  3. A complaint about the quality of goods or services purchased with your card. If you paid for an item which never arrived, or received an item which was significantly different than what you ordered, you may wish to dispute the charge from that merchant. Disputes should never be used to attempt to subvert a refund policy, however. 

Credit vs. Debit Card Disputes

With credit cards, users have a federally-mandated liability cap in cases of identity theft or fraud. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) ensures that credit card users are liable for no more than $50, regardless the amount of the fraudulent charges. Cardholders who report a card lost before it’s used aren’t held responsible for any unauthorized charges at all.

Debit card fraud protection, however, isn’t covered under the FCBA. Those transactions fall under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA). Cardholders may still be covered, but the guaranteed coverage depends on when the card is reported lost or a disputed transaction is identified.

Missing card or dispute reported Cardholder is responsible for
Before any unauthorized transactions $0
Within two (2) days after discovering Up to $50
More than two (2) days Up to $500
60 days after the statement is sent Full amount


How to resolve a disputed charge on your debit card

1. Use chip-and-signature for purchases

If you ran your debit card as “credit” — that is, you didn’t enter a PIN at the point of sale — you may be better protected against disputed charges later. That is because you’re using the credit card networks to process the transaction, so your bank has to follow dispute rules set out by VISA and Mastercard.

2. Contact the merchant

No matter what type of card you used, it’s always best to try to resolve your issues directly with the retailer or service provider first. If there was an error in the amount charged, you were charged twice, or the retailer failed to ship the correct item, many times they will help you resovlve the issue directly and avoid a lengthy dispute period.

3. Keep your receipts

They can help prove your case if, for example, the amount on your receipt is different from the charge on your card statement.

4. Don't treat it like a return policy

Disputes are meant for situations in which the merchant is in the wrong, not cases in which you simply changed your mind. The merchant will have a chance to fight the chargeback by offering evidence that you’re wrong, such as proof the item was delivered or that the charge was correct. 

How long will it take to get my money back?

It can take 30 to 45 days to get the final verdict from your financial institution. 


For help with disputed transactions, please call (313) 965-8640.